Coming into effect on 29th January this year, the UK's new Highway Code road rules are intended to prioritise the safety of ‘vulnerable’ road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. They also aim to consider and reflect the latest enhancements in cycling infrastructure.
These new rules can be separated into three main areas:
The proposal for this new rule says: ‘Those in charge of vehicles causing the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.’
This rule therefore guides drivers of vehicles to prioritise the welfare of non-vehicular road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. However, the objective of introducing this hierarchy is not to give priority to non-vehicular road users in every situation, but instead to 'ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users'.
This principle applies strongest to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, such as vans, minibuses, cars, taxis and motorcycles. New rule H1 states that, as well as this, cyclists and those using the road on horseback have a responsibility to prioritise pedestrians’ safety, too.
These rules apply to drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists, and are focussed primarily on pedestrian safety; intending to clarify where pedestrians have right of way and creating a clearer, stronger priority for pedestrians, particularly at junctions.
• Only pedestrians may use the pavement. The term pedestrian includes people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters. • Pedestrians have priority when on a zebra crossing, on a parallel crossing or at light-controlled crossings (when they have a green signal). Drivers are required to always give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing. • At junctions, give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. • Pedestrians may use any part of the road, and use cycle tracks as well as the pavement, unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians. Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks.
This one is very important for vehicle drivers to understand because cyclists can be a common cause of (unwarranted) road rage.
New rule H3 requires drivers to give priority to cyclists when they are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would to other motor vehicles. The DfT advise that you should not turn at a junction if doing so would cause the cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve.
The new rule states that ‘you should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle.’
This applies whether cyclists are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road.
If necessary, you should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists. This includes when cyclists are:
• approaching, passing or moving off from a junction. • moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic. • travelling around a roundabout.
The Highway Code now also advises cyclists to drive in the middle of the road in order to make themselves more visible to vehicle drivers, especially on country roads or in slow-moving traffic. Prior to the change, cyclists were usually expected to stay close to the kerb.
Cyclists are also advised to proceed with caution around pedestrians and horses and to sound their bell to signal that they are going to pass around.
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